Surrounded in Love

Don’t ask why I decided to stare at the TV for the last 7 hours before writing a blog post. Usually I don’t spend much time playing videogames but I didn’t have work tonight. There wasn’t anything else I wanted to do other than relax and, hey, why do I have to justify myself to you. My brain is a champ though, I’m surprised I’m awake enough to write. *dozes off

Speaking of which, last night I had an interesting dream. Moving away from friends felt a little traumatic and it’s been hard for me to reminisce without feeling nostalgic. It’s been easier to push it all out rather than feel this weird ache for “the good times”. But I dreamt I was at one of my old friend’s house playing board games with everyone. There wasn’t a pit in my stomach, I just felt… happy.

Usually I sleep solid through the night but I woke up after this dream. I laid in bed with a deep feeling of love. I felt content having had the experiences back in Charleston – and I no longer felt the need to go back and mentally relive those memories. It didn’t feel like letting go but I wasn’t desperately clinging to the past. All I felt was love. A love for my friends, a love for the places I visited, and a love for life.

I laid on my back content for what felt like ages. Eventually I rolled over to the nightstand and wrote on a post-it-note, “I’m so lucky”. I believed it too. I deeply appreciated the people who had wandered through my life and the circumstances which had led me to this part of my life journey. I appreciated both the good and the bad that happened to me.

It felt natural to have this experience. There was no desire to go backwards (or to skip forward, for that matter). I was at peace. The only expression that comes to mind is that it felt like “coming home”. I’ve read that phrase through numerous books but never understood it in the way that I do now.

Last night, I came home to myself. I laid in bed in awe of life. I felt my body’s weight and the way the pillow sat under my head. I was conscious of so much. I feel like a restraint within me has broken and I can move freely again. Oh, how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by so much love. I’m so lucky to have friends and to be alive.

Or… maybe my body just realized it’s humpday and the three-day weekend is approaching. Eh? Eh? :-p There’s joy in making it half way through the week without succumbing to workplace depression. ALSO, one week complete of BLOGtober. What on Earth am I going to do when this month is over?!

Day seven of BLOGtober complied with. Over and out.

OH! Go check out Björk’s song ‘All is Full of Love’, totally applicable emotion of the day!

Over and out for real this time. ;-P

Social Media Dream

I want a blank space where all my friends are at. A website that is completely customizable, like a blog. You can create the layout and set it up in a way that displays your content beautifully. If you don’t want to spend time designing a layout, there should be a stock design that is simple.

This site should be social – meaning that unlike blogs, these pages should be interconnected. Blogs tend to be islands that don’t connect unless their authors write about one another. On this site, the user has a homepage, which will display an overview of what’s going on that day.

On Facebook, there’s a tendency to log on and only scroll through the Newsfeed. This site will have a general overview of the people you follow. Maybe one page with 20 posts on it per day. You’ll mark your closest 15 friends that you interact with and their content will display on this homepage. This page will have a layout similar to a newspaper, where you’ll have columns and the scrolling won’t be up/down.

You’ll be able to read yesterday’s newspaper-styled homepage and to continue back for one week. The homepage will be incredibly customizable where you can turn on/off images or memes. You can opt out of connected websites like Twitter or Instagram if you don’t want to see that content.

Artist should be able to showcase their content in the highest quality possible. If you’re a photographer, you should be able to post your images in 350 dpi. If you produce music, you should have the ability to share your music in 320kbps. We want to focus on users uploading their own content, so they should be able to post easily.

There will be no way to “favorite” or “like” a post. The only interaction will be through text based comments, with rudimentary HTML enabled. This means you can hyperlink within your messages or boldface certain text.

The site will have ads to keep the servers running. If a member wishes to disable the ads, they can choose to pay a cheap yearly membership which will cover the cost for them to use the site. We will not sell their personal information or any information that they share on the website. The idea is to have a free space where people can interact without the worry that their information would be used against them.

The site will be adjusted minimally with the intent of creating an open environment where the users can be social. After all, the purpose of social media is to be social.

There are ten thousand different ways we could improve social media. It’s imperfect and will always be changing. However, there are a few things which should never change:
-users should maintain control over their content.
-their privacy should be secure

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. What do you think?



Creating Content

As I sit in our dorm’s community room, I can’t help but look at the others in here who, like me, are scrounging for the free internet. There’s four of us sitting here in each corner of the room, all staring at our computer screens. Two of the guys are watching videos while the other one is playing an online game. They sit entranced by the content that they are viewing and it makes me think about this generation.

With how much focus we put into ingesting internet media, what is our output? The average viewer on YouTube doesn’t make videos. People view so much more content than they create. Think about how many people you’re following on Twitter, Instagram, or how many friends you have on Facebook. What is your view-to-create ratio?

I don’t want to suggest that ingesting media is bad but I can’t help but wonder what we’re contributing. Social media is incredibly interactive and you now have the ability to contact the content creators you admire, yet most people don’t interact with these people. Instead we just wait for more content.

I think that the underlying feeling is “why create in a world full of creators?”. Most people think that they don’t have anything to contribute and therefore they don’t try it. Our generation, in reality, is closer to the stars than any previous generation, yet we also feel the most powerless towards them. You could FB message, Tweet, Instagram, or comment on YouTube to almost any star and maybe get a response.

I don’t have an answer on why you should create or why I create. I just do. Sometimes the content is great, sometimes it’s incredibly boring. But it’s interesting how we live is such a free world but we’re so paralyzed by everything. It’s like sensory overload and too much to handle.


21/31 Blogtober

Censorship on Facebook, Hong Kong’s Protests, and ISIS

As I was scrolling through Facebook today I ran across two different articles. The first was posted by a friend who lives in Hong Kong. He wrote about the protests and police brutality happening in his city. The second was video posted by a distant friend. The video featured ISIS members riding in a car and shooting at civilians.

If you didn’t know, right now Hong Kong exists semi-autonomously from China. They do not choose their leader but they’re have more freedoms than the Chinese. Hong Kongers were promised the ability to elect a leader by 2017, just 20 years after British rule ended. This would create a greater independence and expand HK’s freedom from China. However, last month China released information on how the election will be conducted.

The candidates for the election will be 2-3 people who are screened/selected by China. Thereby negating the hope of ‘free’ elections. The candidates selected by China will undoubtedly be pro-Beijing/pro-China.

After this information was released, students in HK started protesting nonviolently. They collected in schools and were civilly disobedient. Police were called in and started violently removing the students. This sparked controversy and resulted in an increase of protesters. The numbers reached approximately 60,000 today. The police started using tear gas to try to break the crowds. If you want to read more, check it out here.

The second post I saw today featured members presumably part of ISIS driving down a highway. They took their rifles as they drove by cars and shot at the passengers. When the cars swerved off the road, they returned and killed them. All this was captured uncensored on video and re-posted by my friend.

The video was both gory and horrifying. Facebook autoloads video, so when I scrolled past it, the video was already loaded. While I’m definitely an advocate of free-speech, I couldn’t help but feel it was wrong to post that content to Facebook. At the very least, this content shouldn’t load automatically. I only watched the first ten seconds, not knowing what had loaded, and then saw people brutally shot to death.

Immediately I reported the video because I know other people, much younger than me, who shouldn’t log onto Facebook and see that content. It’s not that I want to censor them but I feel like this content contributes in an unnecessary way. It’s for shock value and the point of terrorism. The idea behind terrorism, is to terrorize people. By spreading this content, I feel like people are spreading terrorism.

Anyways, within the hour Facebook responded by saying that the content was not removed and did not violate their Community Standards. Curious about these rules, I started reading them. Here’s what I learned:

-According to Facebook, you can post content that includes “human rights abuses or acts of terrorism”.

-Facebook acknowledges that this content is graphically violent

-You can only post this content if it isn’t for “sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence”.

Hypothetically this means I could post a video of you skinning your neighbor alive… as long as I condemn it.


Both of these topics are about freedom and censorship of the internet. On Facebook, you could share both of these articles. Each video has a similar intention. The purpose of posting about HK’s police brutality is to inform you through information. The other video is supposed to inform you about ISIS, and does so through shock value. It hopes to catch your attention by scaring you or making you angry.

Facebook’s policies revolve around the free exchange of ideas. You should be able to post whatever you want and I agree with that. People should share content! However, if you’re going to allow graphic content, Facebook should not autoload it and you should have to have a warning over the video saying that the content is graphic. If the viewer is under the age of 18, they should not see people being murdered. And those who are of age should have the ability to know if the content they’re about to view is graphic.

The odd part of Facebook’s policy revolves around nudity. You can post images of breastfeeding or of Michelangelo’s David if you’d like (according to their guidelines). This promotes the free exchange of information. However, Facebook removes (censors) images that it deems as sexually explicit. This is logical because we don’t want children to be scrolling through Facebook looking at pornographic content.

Most of my friends on Facebook are photographers. Usually there isn’t any nudity but occasionally an artist uses it for a concept in their art. With the free exchange of information, these friends should be able to post their content with no problems. After all, their page did talk about “David”, basically saying that artistic nudity is unique. So why is it that my friends have to blur out nipples or place censor bars on their images so that Facebook doesn’t remove them or delete their profile.

If the purpose of Facebook is to share and connect with others, then free exchange of information is important. You should be allow to say what you want to say to your friends. If that means sharing graphic videos, fine, but we can’t have partial censorship. Why can one person share a bloody video while an artist can’t post a photograph of a partially nude woman.

Facebook needs to adopt a way of censoring content that is unique to the user. If you are under 18, you should not see graphic content, nude or violent. If you are over 18, perhaps make content gray with a bar labeled as graphic. The user can then choose to view the content if they choose. Perhaps they could label the reason why the content is considered mature.

I guess my frustration centers around the purpose of Facebook. It’s a great way to inform others of world events. I had no idea about Hong Kong’s protests before I logged on. However, I was subject to content that I didn’t want to see without any warning. I want there to be freedom of speech but I want there to be a way to know what I’m about to look at. When I go on DeviantArt, you can choose to make mature content visible, or you can select to view content on a case by case basis. Either way, I’m frustrated.


Where’d your stuff go?

As a person who regularly views art online, I find it incredibly frustrating when an artist removes most of their work. YouTubers like Randy Phillips create fantastic videos but decide, for whatever reason, to remove them. In fact, I would say that often, they choose to remove their best content. Many photographers I know have done the same thing on Flickr. Bloggers like Jay Brannan and Davey Wavey choose to close their websites.

I say this not in an effort to badger these artists’ work but to pose a question: what is the purpose of your content?

Photography is the easiest content to talk about because I know many artists and I’m a photographer myself. For many in my community, we share our work on Flickr. When I was active on the site, it served as a community where we critiqued one another’s work, as well as documented our progress.

Many photographers chose to do 365 projects, similar to how I’m blogging daily. This produces a lot of content, which floods our profile. As more work is produced, the quality improves. Eventually artists have a clear distinction between their new (quality) work and their old work that they learned through. This gap creates a difficult because it goes back to the question: what is the purpose of your content?

In 2010, one of my favorite photographers shut down her Flickr profile and hid her 365. This absolutely devastated me because I loved all of her work. Everything about it was beautiful! I felt as if part of my soul was ripped away when she took down her content. From her perspective, she was clearing old photographs that no longer represented her quality of work. She didn’t want others to see old images because she wanted to display only her finest content.

Her purpose for posting this content was to show her greatest work. This meant removing the work that she believed wasn’t good enough. While on the other side of the country, I’m at home looking for her content. I didn’t look for only the ‘best’, I wanted the full feeling of her work. It took me years to get over this loss.

YouTubers have done the same thing with their channels. Randy took down almost half of his videos and I don’t understand why. Perhaps the purpose of his content was to represent himself and he didn’t like how half of his videos looked. Again, I watched his content for the whole feeling of it, not just the quality of one.

Davey Wavey is a famous YouTuber who began as a blogger. On his site he wrote almost daily about his life. It was interesting to see his perspective on the world and I loved reading it. Everything felt fresh and timeless. I’ve spent many nights re-reading old posts because I related to them so well. A few months ago he took down his site and moved to another domain. While this was probably to upgrade his previous site, he removed his blog. This is such a shame because I really valued his writings.

Let’s turn the question to you; what is the purpose of your content?

Why do you share yourself online? Some share to create an image of themselves or to document their lives. Others do it for building a portfolio or to gain fame.

Is it right to take down your content?

Well it is your content. You are free to do anything you like. I write this post because I want others to know that readers like all of your content. Having 10 perfect posts is worse than having 75 alright posts. I would rather have much more quantity and a better representation of your work.

I have no right to tell you what to do but I would like to request that you leave your content online. Even if you push it to another site or another location. It’s unfortunate to see so much fantastic art disappearing online because artists want to clear up their profile.

Why do you create? What is the purpose of your content?


Content with where I’m at

For the first time in a long time I feel content.

This week has been a rollar coaster of emotion and it concluded well this weekend hanging out with friends. Yesterday I got out and visited Folly Beach to shoot some photos for the first time in a year. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve done any pictures. It’s just hard for me to believe that something that was such a part of my life just disapeared for a year. Taking photos yesterday filled some void within me.

The friend I was hanging out with yesterday brings a joyous energy I wish I could give more of to the world. Being in her prescence is uplifting and I’m appreciative of our friendship. We laughed, we cried, we vlogged, and tried new food. It was a bit of a drive but it was something I needed after such a long week.

Today I went downtown with another really good friend to show him some of the places I’ve grown to love. Even though it was Easter, most of downtown was completely opened. We wandered, we tried food and got stuffed on desserts. Earthbound supplied me with a miniature Buddha and a box with the symbol “om” engraved on the top. My friend got some large canvas prints for his walls and we had a good time.

Looking at my 365, I’ve been in Chaleston for 40 days already and I feel like I’ve moved in. I’m no longer moving around the country and I’m able to somewhat settle down. I’m in a new town, with new people, moving along with my life. It’s only a couple more months until my 20th birthday but I feel like an adult now. I feel at home, I feel centered with my life.


Contentment vs. Happiness

It seems that many people’s goal in life is simply to be happy, but being continuously happy isn’t always possible. Life events will surely take bad routes and happiness is not always possible. Happiness, just like sadness, is a life condition. It can be imprinted into yourself but just as you can be imprinted with depression, so can you with happiness. Although this is a fantastic goal and appreciating happiness is never wrong, we should focus more on contentment. Happiness is not always possible, as Eckhart Tolle says in “The Power of Now”, someone may die and there isn’t happiness in that. However there can be contentment. You can be content with what you have and where you are at all times. Your body may be happy at times, it may be sad at others. Contentment is realizing that life can be a roller coaster and there are ups and downs. You may be high, you may be low, but you can always be content with where you are. Tonight, take a moment tonight and appreciate where you are right now. You could be in a nice warm house or in a cold hard-wooded apartment. You could be dealing with a divorce or just getting married. Sometimes life events don’t seem to turn out to be the best but you can choose to accept what is happening and be content with where you are. That is where I am with my life. I’m taking deep breaths in and accepting my life as it is. I am content.